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Posted On: 14 September 2009 11:54 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:10 pm

Flu policy transparent, says health official

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The delay in announcing the death of the Nepalese expatriate due to swine flu was caused because of a communication error, sources in the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) said yesterday. The Council announced the death of the Nepalese — the second swine flu death in the country — on Saturday, more than a week after the incident. He died at the Al Khor Hospital on September 4 and the body has already been flown home two days ago, it is learnt. “There was a delay in announcing the death, which happened due to a technical glitch in the computer system. The death took place in the Al Khor Hospital and it took some time for the incident to be conveyed to the higher authorities. We have taken steps to rectify the problem,” Dr Husam Rezea, head of the Communicable Disease Control and Vaccination section at SCH told The Peninsula yesterday. “Qatar has adopted a policy of transparency as far as swine flu is concerned. Thank god, we still have only two deaths due to swine flu, and this is one of the lowest in the region. Then why should we try to hide information from the public?” asked Husam. He said the most important thing was to make sure that all the patients get proper treatment in the right time. “In this particular case, there was a delay in reporting the illness to the health care workers. This could be a factor that deteriorated the patient’s condition. This underlines the need for more public awareness about the disease,” added Husam. He said community workers and people staying in labour camps must be more cautious about the disease, since they would be interacting and communicating with more people. If they fail to report an infection in the early stages, there is the risk of the virus spreading to a large number of people. He said despite a rise in the cases of swine flu in the country, the situation had not yet reached the stage of an outbreak. The severity of the disease has also not increased. “We are trying our best to control the situation and we need the support of the people and the media in our effort. Public awareness is the most important weapon in the fight against the pandemic,” he added. He said Qatar will review its decision not to close down schools depending on the situation. “Closure of schools is a very major issue that could affect the education system as well as the economy. WHO has not issued any clear guidelines on this issue. We are closely monitoring the situation and would change our stance depending on how the situation develops,” said Husam.